Nearly 20,000 children in Slough and 15,000 in the Royal Borough have not seen an NHS dentist in the last year, according to newly released figures.

Meanwhile the British Dental Association has accused the Government of an unwillingness to engage with hard-to-reach families, saying it could save money through earlier intervention.

Data from the NHS shows that just 55 per cent of children in Slough saw an NHS dentist in the 12 months to June 2018, slightly less than the 59 per cent average across England.

It means 18,835 children in the Slough area and 14,035 in the Royal Borough have not been for their check-up over the period, despite NHS guidelines saying they should be seen every 12 months. NHS dental care for children is free.

The BDA has called on authorities in England to follow the example of the devolved Scottish and Welsh governments, who have set up programmes reaching out to children in schools.

Its chairman of general dental practice Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen said: "This huge fall in NHS attendance among patients exempt from the NHS charges is the logical outcome of failed government policy.

"Ministers have created a hostile environment for vulnerable groups and those on low incomes who have a right to free dentistry. These patients often with complex needs require early intervention not the ever present present threat of fines."

The BDA says some patients received £100 fines just for ticking the wrong box on forms about their eligibility for free treatment. It claims the issue of fines has increased 12 fold.